Triathlon training: 10 tips for beginners

Elite coach Perry Agass passes on his top 10 training tips for triathletes new to the sport


1. Keep Consistency


Life chucks many different challenges our way, so whilst training we need to make sure our training goals are manageable. We spend too much time thinking we need to spend hours and hours training to make it worthwhile and then when we get side tracked with our daily lives and are too busy for a 3hr bike for example we just turn our back on the plan. Better to keep it short and simple, achievable and manageable. That way you are still progressing and achieving.

2. Don’t Over Train

Many athletes get carried away with how many hours they need to do per week. I get asked a lot “what do the Pros do?” My answer is normally “what they’re set”. It’s not a case of how many hours you’re doing but what you need to do to achieve this week. Less can often be more and many athletes overlook what recovery really means for them to become the athlete they crave to be.

Triathlon is a sport that asks a lot of the body and the mind so its vital that both get plenty of rest.

Explained: avoiding overtraining

3. Make sure your goals are achievable and manageable

Everyone gets inspired by watching a triathlon. But when you enter don’t overlook what goes into putting all three disciplines together, especially with longer distance races.

It takes its toll on you physically, mentally and socially, and this is something people often overlook. You need to be prepared to spend many hours on your own training, and that means away from family and friends.vOnce the novelty has warn off and the excitement of entering has passed, the realty of what you need to do to actually achieve your goal hits.

So be realistic about your circumstances. Look not only at your ability but also how much time you have to train, what effect it will have on others in your life, and the financial cost.

Dave Scott on how goal-setting can help you focus when going long

4. Train for Transitions

Transitions are a big part of any athlete’s race but they’re often overlooked.  It’s something you can do indoors. So indoors have 2 kits on, one over the other and and a change of trainers, practice taken them off and then on. Once you’re happy then go outside and practice mounting and dismounting the bike.

Beginners should start with trainers before progressing to their bike shoes.  You may want to practice starting with your bike shoes clipped on to the pedals, with the pedals held level with rubber bands.

Top triathlon transition tips

Two triathlon transition drills to practise for race season

How to mount and dismount your bike smoothly in transition


5. Consider some formal coaching

There’s so much information online, in books and magazines. And all of your friends and clubmates will have advice. It’s all well meant but can be contradictory. So think about whether you would benefit from working with a a coach, either at your club or a professional. Before committing to a coach think about your goals and how much time you have available. Be honest with your coach and try to talk to other people who are working with them

Ironman triathlon training: being coached vs self-coaching

How to choose a triathlon coach


6. And look at a Training Camp

There are loads of different types of camps: one day, weekenders, or week long camps, both in the UK and overseas in warm weather.  A training camp is a great way to get a consistent block of training alongside other athletes and under the guidance of a coach. They’re definitely not just for experts and done well can really move your performance along

7. Look after your bike

You spend months training and preparing your body, so don’t forget about your bike. Make sure you take it to your local bike shop and give it an MOT at least a week before your race.  Keep your bike clean, especially your chain: a dirty greasy chain can add minutes over 112 miles for example.

Basic Bike Prep: is your bike ready to race?

8. And have a proper bike fit

Many athletes spend huge amounts of money on kit, bikes and wheels but all of that means nothing unless your body fits the bike frame so that you can execute the performance you want. Spending money on a really good bike fit can make such a huge difference to your overall outcome on the day.  It’s an investment that could prove far more cost effective than simply upgrading your bike.

9. Get rest and sleep the week leading into the race

Getting to sleep the night before a race can be a big problem for some and the more you try the harder it is and the more you stress. Concentrate on making sure you get enough sleep and rest throughout the week, and building a sleep bank. The night before race day, sleeping shouldn’t really be a major issue. Simply relax, shut your eyes and rest.

Scientists find sleep deprivation affects athletic performance considerably

Six ways to sleep like an athlete

10. Wear the right clothing on race day

So many athletes spend months training for an event and then get their race wear wrong.  Everyone wants to look good on race day, but its more important after spending months training and a lot of money for a race to actually wear clothes that fit well, keep you warm, and dry or protected from the sun. If not your your race could be over sooner than you think. Never wear anything for the first time on race day!

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Former sprinter Perry Agass competed in multiple sprint, Olympic, 70.3 and Ironman races before being forced to take a break after a road bike accident in 2011. He has now been a professional coach for over 10 years and has worked with some of the best coaches and athletes in the world and helped  athletes to qualify for World Championship events.


He also hosts bespoke training camps in Maspalomas Gran Canaria, called The Elite Training Experience, which are designed for triathletes of all abilities.